tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN January 23, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PST
i'm don lemon. it's 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. live with the breaking news include lg this. reporting the attorney general jeff sessions has been pressuring the fbi director christopher wray to fire deputy director andrew mccabe. that the public urging of president trump. we have lots of get to tonight. we want to get to pam brown. what is the white house saying? >> the white house did release a statement. let me read it here. this is from white house press principle deputy press secretary. as you see here's what he said. the president has enormous respect for thousands of rarng and file fbi agents. who make up the worlds most professional and talented law
enforcement agency. he believes politically motivated senior leaders including former fbi director comey. and others he empowered have tainted the agency reputation for unbias pursuit of justice. the president appointed chris wray because he's a man of true character, and integrity, and the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest level of the fbi. and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership. so there you see the statement, don, clearly the white house isn't denying this reporting. that wray felt pressure. the fbi director felt pressure from the attorney general sessions. and was upset about it. the white house not denying that. it's unclear parts of this are uncloer in terms of that he had the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest level of the fbi. it seems as though they're talking about andy mccabe.
the deputy fbi director expected to retire soon. i think that tells you something. >> it certainly does. she ran to the studio to fwet to us. so we know you're out of breath. let's be transparent. thank you for get. this is new reporting to get on the air. you're the best person to do it. listen, the white house are they worried about the optics of the second fbi director being fired and trumps first year? was that a big concern? >> according to to the reporting there was concern of pressuring wray. and concern that perhaps wray would loef. that he would leaf the job. and the optics of an fbi director two trekt directors loefing within the same year. they were gun shy after james comey was fired. and the media fire storm that caused. the white house doesn't want another one of those.
and the optics aren't good for the white house. the idea that the second fbi director under president trump's administration has felt political pressure. is not a good thing when you think about the fbi director is supposed to be independent from politics and pressure. this is not the kind of story that the white house would want. given everything especially that happened with the former fbi director james comey. >> thank you for being a trooper. we appreciate you running in. thank you so much. let's discuss this now. the breaking news national security analysis is here. and cnn legal analyst. former federal prosecutor. running for attorney general in illinois. let's discuss. interesting reporting here. steve the former dwi director tweeted about this. a moment ago. here's what he said. people standing up for what they believe in. the ultimate measure of a man
where he stand in challenge and controversy. by obviously dr. martin luther king, jr. a quote there. what would the reaction been if wray resigned over the pressure to fire mccabe? >> i think it would have been catastrophic. i have a lot of respect for former director comey. he's saying the right thing in terms of individual people standing up. this is a bigger issue. i have served in developing democracies that are younger and less peerngsed than ours. this is extremely typical for autocrats figuring out democracies work. when you become the president or prime minister you don't get to pick and choose without over sight based on your personal likes. how you feel that day or your politics who you'll keep and fire. to do that in this country damaging to our democracy. the fbi is a complicated
organization. it's unique. it's not only the federal law enforcement. but it's also the federal counter intelligence. which takes us to the question of the russia investigation. which is what this is about. we have a president who is doing everything he can to try to under mine anything that might call into question the election in the russian involvement in that. and the possible cooperation between he and his team. and this is just not the way things ought to work in the country. >> page, you heard the statement from white house. that's not a denial, is it? >> it doesn't sound like a denial at all. it's clear trump likely talked to session and pressured wray to remove mccabe. one thing about that, the constitution really allows a president to remove whomever he wants from the justice department. so we think about the fbi being a inindependent agency.
if we have a president to change the way investigations are taking place, he can do that under the constitution. as long as he's not doing it with a corrupt intent. so if this is about russia, if this is about something to protect himself or his businesses, or his associates, then he has more of a problem. i'm certain the special counsel office is trying to find out about the discussions and what pressure was brought to bare on where i say wray. >> i want to bring you in. at issue here is president trumps insis tans andrew mccabe and his wife are allies of the clintons and believes that tainted the investigation into the clinton e-mails. this is what he tweeted in july. in charge of clinton investigation but got big dollars. $700,000 for his wives political run from clinton. and haddand her representatives.
drain the swamp. does he have a legitimate gripe? or should the political aspirations be kept separate? >> he doesn't have a legitimate political gripe. more importantly i think what he's doing is very irresponsible. what he's suggesting and said in that statement that you read that the reporter read out of breath a minute ago was saying that the leadership of the fbi has is politically motivated and engaging in misconduct. a president of the united states shouldn't make accusations against fbi leadership so casually like that. this is literally the independent watchdogs that watch to make sure crimes aren't being committed by people in our government. and for the president of the united states to be going after them in this way making accusations very irresponsibly. when he's also himself under investigation. regardless of whether or not it's obstruction of justice. there's a moment ago we
discussed whether the corrupt intent that would be required. regardless of that, the president of the united states shouldn't be going after the law enforcement leadership. it's wrong. it's antidemocratic. these are the people who are supposed to be watching out independently. watching the people in government to make sure they are not committing crime. frankly it's disappointing to me it's become a norm that people on both sides of the aisle aren't condemning that. it should be a non-partisan issue. >> you agree with that, steve? >> absolutely. you can't say it enough. this is the united states of america. it is a an american issue with regard to whether it's russia or whether or not this president was involved. those are partisan questions. those are questions with regard to america. to who we are. you can't -- let's not be naive. there's no politics involved in who's the director of the fbi or director of the cia.
you need to understand or think about the idea donald trump is doing is sounding a dog whistle to the base. okay this is another deep state thing. when he says it's the senior leadership of fill in the blank. the fbi. or when it's the cia has a bunch of people who are associated with nazis. what he's saying to the base is you can't trust these people i'm here to help you. but i have the traitors inside the fbi leadership. inside the intelligence committee who are fighting against me and trying to make the whole -- it's ridiculous. it's not funny. because it's extremely damaging to really important institutions of our democracy. >> if fbi director wray had left, he would have been the second fbi director to be fired or leave his position in the first year. that would be incredible. >> i think it's unprecedent.
and it's really inconsistent with president trump saying he appointed chris wray because he has a great reputation and rebuild the fbi. and doesn't trust him to do his job. he wants to interfere and tell wray who he ought to have as deputy dregt director. who he should hire and fire. i have known chris wrays reputation. impeccable reputation. let him do his job. let him run the fbi as he sees fit. don't interfere. it hurts your credibility but the agents who are doing the day-to-day job of enforcing the law in court across the country. if the public doesn't respect the fbi because of what the president is saying, it really makes a difficult for them to do their job. >> thank you. i appreciate it. when we come back the washington watchdog group claims the six figure payment to a porn star alleged to have an affair with president trump broke the law.
we have new developments tonight in the story of the porn star who had an affair with donald trump in 2006. stormy daniels appearing in public at a strip club in south carolina. over the weekend. but there is more. now the group common cause is lodging complaints alleging that a reported $130,000 hush money payment to daniels constitutes a
campaign finance violation. let's get to cnn brian todd. the lathes on this story. good evening to you. storeny daniels isn't talking about her experience with trump. but is nightclub adult nightclub in south carolina. over the week. the trophy club. i spoke to the owner of the club who told me this was a record crowd that came to see her. he charged double the usual $20 cover charge. but not quite as much as he charges to book some other popular events. he denies he's gouging his customers here. he was taking care of them. we understand from him and others who were involved in booking this event, that she is going to continue to capitalize on this. we're told shee is booked several other adult nightclubs throughout the country in nashville and oklahoma city. that she could be booked through the month of june. from people in the industry say that's not unusual for a porn
star to appear at these club. she's a popular entity. there were journalists at the club on saturday. wanting to speak to her about the alleged affair with donald trump. of course she was cage ji about that. and refused to give details. saying what her life has been like in the last week since this broke. she said her life has been kind of stressful. but amusing. she told reporters. >> that would be an interesting assignment. i would imagine. they were there working. i want to speak with a lawyer soon, coming up next. from common cause. they filed complaints with the department of justice sdp the federal election commission alleging that payment of $130,000. through stormy daniels through llc constitutes a campaign finance violation. just remind us of what happened with john edwards. remember. this was in 2008.
the presidential campaign. there seems to be possible similarities. >> there could be similarities. john edwards was prosecuted in 2012. for what happened in 2008. prosecutors accusing him-over getting a million dollars in illegal campaign contributions to keep his mistress silent during the 2008 campaign. now edwards was prosecuted but not convicted. i believe the jury found him not guilty on one count. and deadlocked on the other. five counts. so proving that maybe tough. but common cause is going to try to bring the case and get to investigate. whether this was an illegal campaign contribution. since the payment was made in the weeks just before the 2016 election. common cause arguing that it may not have been an illegal contribution. if it was donald trumps own money. but there may have been a reporting violation since they reported it to no one. so that could be part of the litigation. >> let's talk about that. brian todd, thank you very much.
i want to bring in the vice president of the policy and litigation. paul s. ryan. did donald trumps lawyer michael cohen break campaign finance law by paying stormy daniels $130,000? >> it certainly looks like that happened. there was a violation or multiple vilss of the law. the law says that any money spent or paid by a candidate or agent of the a candidate for the purpose of influencing an election. that's both a contribution from the candidate to their campaign. that's an expenditure. both which have to be reported. that didn't happen. that's the violation number one. that we're alleging. the second part is if the money didn't come from trump's pocket. that adds on another count. we're talking about illegal contribution. illegal corporate contribution to the campaign. or if it was from an individual an illegally excessive
contribution. in excess of $2,700 limit. few possible violations in play. we think there's enough evidence to warrant investigation into all of them. we think it's highly likely at a minimum there's a reporting violation. >> so michael cohen provided a statement to cnn tonight. he says the common cause the attorney supposedly did the payment and set up the all that. the complaint is baseless along with the allegation that president trump filed a false report to the fec. now paul, when my producer asked why it was baseless he said he would explain in due time. what do you think of that? >> he sure will. if he's continuing to represnt the president. or has involvement with the campaign committee. he'll be explaining himself. he sounded nervous to me. >> okay. why do you think that sounds nervous? >> overly defensive. in my opinion. it's cheer from wall street journal he set up an llc and
they made an $130,000 payment to stormy daniels lawyer. that has been reported and confirmed. he's declaring that seemingly declaring none of it happened. >> yeah. what do the doj have to prove. ha evidence do they have to find? >> they have different enforcement authority. civil authority. doesn't have to prove violation beyond a reasonable doubt. the department of justice is in charge of criminal prosecution. that would mean a criminal trial to prove violations or of the law beyond a reasonable doubt. so burden of proof is different in both cases. and what we're calling for at this stage is an investigation. that's the job of both of the agencies early on. there's a violation here. there are a couple of differences important differences in the scenarios before the trump daniels.
and the edwards prosecution. namely that with respect to john edwards there was no evidence in the record that miss hunter. the girlfriend in the matter was about to talk to the press. and talk. they made big deal of that. that's not the case here. we know she was talking to god morning america. talking to slate. this was all coming also remember a week after the access hollywood tape leaked. so we're talking about a trump campaign that was reeling from that earlier scandal. right before the general election. so this certainly looks like a payment to influence the election. >> well, what if, this is a what if, what it donald trump nor any officials knew michael cohen set up this payment. as i ask you that, he was sort of a de facto campaign person because he was on tv a lot defending this president.
you get what i'm asking? >> if neither trump nor campaign staff knew about this. it becomes a harder case to prove. a much closer call in whether there was a violation. it's only a violation if the candidate or the candidates campaign or agents arranged this payment. it would get into the legal question of what michael cohen acting as an agent of president trump. or his committee. that's a tougher call. >> if he's acting on his own there's no there there. >> it's a tougher case to make. you have to argue along the lines you eluded to. he was representing the campaign. he was a surrogate of the campaign. you have to get more than that. prove under the law he was acting as an agent within the scope of his agency doing this. that would be a tougher case. >> what are the chances he would be acting on behalf of the president as his attorney and making decisions for him and not telling him about the sdis
decisions? >> incredibly low. this looks like enough ground for an investigation. $130,000 he's the head lawyer at the trurp organization. the personal lawyer. enough for an investigation. >> all right. thank you. thank you so much. i appreciate it. when we come back, much more on the breaking news. the report that president trump and attorney general jeff sessions are pressuring the fbi the director of the fbi to fire the deputy director.
here's our breaking news. attorney general jeff sessions has been pressuring the director of the fbi to fire the deputy director. i want to bring in adam. the senior editor at the. michael the author of the truth about trump. i'm glad to have you both on. michael is a regular. adam not always a regular. good to have you on. thank you for coming on the program. tonight access reporting sessions at public urging of president trump has been pressuring the fbi director chris wray to fire the deputy director andrew mccabe.
wray threatened to resign if mccabe was removed. does this sound like a flooump to you? >> it's 100% a donald trump move. he doesn't forget when people upset him. and he associates wray and others at the fbi with james comey. these were the fellows that comey went back and shared information about the meetings he had with the president. so there would be a contemporary record of what transpired. i think the reporting sounds accurate. john than swan the reporter has done good reporting on this topic of the president's conflict with people at the justice department. it seems like something he's pressuring jeff sessions to pull off. >> what's your reaction to the reporting tonight? >> it speaks highly of wrays
character that he threatened to resign over this. we have been talking about the independence of the fbi. the department of justice is supposed to be independent. jeff sessions and his confirmation hearing last january said the attorney general is someone who has to be able to tell the president no. it says something about jeff sessions and his own stewart ship of the justice department that he would pressure the director of the fbi to fire someone simply because the president of the united states has decided this person is his political enemy. >> the other big story of course the government shut down. democratic senator finestein told that today's vote ending the shut down and lack of resolution on the dreamers is quote one of the most crushing things that has happened to me in the senate because we got such strong public support. did senate democrats cave? >> well, i think it's a matter of opinion. as to whether they caved. i think it's very clear imfwrags
activists believe they caved and that's a risk for democrats because what they want into 2018 is a sense that from their base they are going to stand up to trump and when they are voting for democrats will make a difference in the way the country is run. for a lot of people today particularly those on the immigration issue. they won't be feeling that way. >> do you think that we'll have any clarity on daca by february 8? that's a deadline. it there anything the dreamers can hang their hats on? >> i don't think there's anything to hang their hat on. the deal mcconnell gave democrats doesn't stay with the nature of a daca bill that would be brought would be. there's nothing they got out of this. >> why was president on the sideline during this week during negotiations? didn't leave, supposed to go, why was he so quiet?
>> he was way waiting to see how the senators would manage without him. also in his nature to kind of confuse people. so he was at one point saying you come together and i'll sign whatever you produce. then he was backing away tr that position. he engaged with senator schumer and then backed away from that. i think he was waiting for the end game. so he could declare victory no matter what happened. that's one thing that you have to remember. when ever you're assessing president trump. he's got the victory lap already planned. no matter what the out come will be. he's able to interpret events to suit himself. >> i want you to explain to the ewe viewers why he showed his entrepreneur skills don't translate to government. >> he went through bankruptcy
where all he had to do was manage the expectations of bankers. show them they would be better off sticking with him. than cutting him loose and taking pennies on the dollar. and then playing that leverage to rebuild his fortune. later on, when he was negotiating with people to develop golf courses, it was one at a time. he never actually went back to any of the players to do business with them in subsequent deals. so in washington, he's got to make deals with members of congress over and over again. and this is not what trump the serial entrepreneur did. he was willing to burn people. not pay his bills. force them to take him to court. this is not how washington works. washington remembers. so someone like chuck schumer i don't think will trust president the next time they're in the room together. >> i thought it was a very wise tweet that you put out today.
adam. you said republicans fear the base and democrats fear the gop base. but democrats do not fear their base at all. so in other words, things look bleak for the democratic base going forward. is that what you're saying? >> there's an ideology asymmetry. republicans the conservative wing has been successful at primarying legislators who deviate. you don't see that on the democratic side. they're much less afraid of taki taking controversial votes like this one that upset the base. the exception is the 2020 hopefuls. anyone thinking of running for president voted against it. >> the president is tweeting i'm hearing. we'll talk about that. i appreciate it. another states electoral map ruled unconstitutional.
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tonight. you knew he would. surprise, surprise. about the end of the government shutdown. i want to talk about this. basically tweeting saying see you at the negotiating table. and what did he say, big win for the republicans. democrats caved on the shut down. he wants a big win for republicans and democrats and daca. especially the military and
on and on. so, terra, let me ask symone. i teld told you. that your party was cave. >> you did. but you know what i was hopeful. i was hopeful. but first of all, change never come through the institution. real change comes from outside folks pushing and cornering the folks in the institution. >> you're mad. >> i am mad. progressives across the country are mad. i'm concerned about the thousands and thousands of folks out there dreamers whose lives sit in him bow.
the 15,000 folks who lost protective status that cannot work and don't know what will happen tomorrow. people can miss me about dems struck a good deal. for who? they wet the bed. they caved. i don't have good faith that anything different is going to happen. 17 days from now. >> you look like the cat who ate the canary. what's going on? >> this is amazing to me. mitch
mcconnell offered chuck schumer this deal on friday night. and walked away from it. all they got was a weekend of pain and a sore knee. when mcconnell made schumer bend the knee today in the senate. here's what's going to happen. it's going to be all right. the republicans are going to fix daca. they're going to get border security. they'll do something the last two presidents couldn't do under donald trump. that is get immigration reform. mark it down it will happen. the man who ran the most antiimmigration platform in history. is going to do the biggest
immigration reform we have had in a long time. >> that was a big eye roll. >> i'm not -- >> i agree on what happened with the shut down. and i was arguing with my democrat friends who love me because of my stance on trump. then get mad when i call democrats out for the doing what they do. it was the schumer shut down. and this is really schumer's first big test as the minority leader in the senate and failed miserably. i don't know whether you'll see this. i'm not as optimistic as scott is. as getting a comprehensive immigration done. trump needs to have a foil. he has to have a villain. his existence if politics is about his tough stance on the immigration and the wall. if he gets that, what happens? i don't know he's gong to get it the way it is defined. when you have people like stephen miller who are almost ir
rational to the point of zen phobia. which is how he got who are. they were working towards something. the stephen miller's of the world got a hold of trump. and the base will be upset with me. we'll get something. you'll get daca. but after that, i'm not so as confident. >> don't you think the base would be upset? the base doesn't like daca. they don't want dreamers to be legal. >> overwhelming majority of the american people see this needs to get done. and trump can look like a hero. where he does something the other two presidents couldn't achieve. he can push for the border security side. if he gives daca without the border security. he's in trouble. >> i didn't mean to throw water on your fire, symone. you're upset. democrats need --
>> she should upset. >> democrats have managed to reseed to republican demands. demoralize the energized base. and a meaningless three day government shutdown. all at once. >> a government shutdown that happened over the weekend. like, okay. when will the democratic party. this is what folks are asking. when will elected officials in the democratic party really listen to and care about and be moved by the base of the democratic party. folks keep talking about 2018 and a lot of stories there was concern about 2018 and the momentum. there is no momentum. there is no blue waef without black and brown people. so what is going to happen when folks wake up and realize that maybe this is the same democratic party we had last go round. folks that are not willing to dig down deep in the dirt and get dirty and stay dirty.
i'm upset. i know folks are upset. i hope that come tomorrow there are folking outside the doors of the senate democrats that voted for this bill. i hope there are people outside of the office -- >> this kills the momentum? >> it throws salt on the wound. we're having difficult intra-party conversations right now. you cannot say you stand with dreamers and every opportunity that one had over the last four months to legislatively demonstrate that you cave. >> i want to -- i'm going help you pak the point. in january of 2017 this is in january. president trump said we'll take care of the kids. daca kidment september 5 he ended the daca program. he agreed to a deal to legalize daca in exchain for border security. that didn't happen.
a two week spending measure that doesn't legalize dreamers. december 20 another stopgap spending measure without daca. january 9 this year televised meeting. he would sign the clean daca bill. it wasn't his decision. and they shut the government down on the 18th. what gives democrat, why would schumer believe republicans or the president that something would be done when gave them opportunities? in the past year and there was no movement. of an intention to do something. why would he cave like that? i don't understand. >> yeah, i mean he caved because the politics writing was on the wall. when the red state democrats on friday night went with the donald trump mitch mcconnell position. you knew where it was headed. he couldn't hold the five red
state democrats. he lost leverage and ability to hold onto this thing was null and void. congress hasn't acted because they govern best when there's a deadline. we aren't up against a deadline. they need to get it done before march. >> you have been up to deadlines years before. this. >> it's real now. we have a real deadline now of march. they need to get it done. i believe the dreamers deserve and will get the legal certainty that they ought to have. the executive order didn't give it to them. the law will. they need it they should get it. the republicans will do it. they needed the deadline. the president ending the executive order and putting a deadline will lead them to certainty. >> i have to take a break. remember this. >> i could stand in the middle of the fifth avenue and shoot somebody and i wouldn't lose voters. >> two yores later and one year
into his term. was president trump right? do any of his actions or words really matter to his base or will they blindly follow him? saturday night live is asking the same question. we'll show you next. e businesses to run. they have passions to pursue. how do they avoid trips to the post office? stamps.com mail letters, ship packages, all the services of the post office right on your computer. get a 4 week trial, plus $100 in extras including postage and a digital scale. go to stamps.com/tv and never go to the post office again.
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saturday night live. back at it this weekend. poking fun at president trump. take a look. >> welcome to what even matter anymore. the show where i tell you something our president did or said. and you have to tell me does it even matter anymore? the president of the united states refers to countries as poo poo holes and say all haitians have aids. >> that's really bad. that has to matter, yes. >> actually it does not matter. zero consequences and everyone moves on. the president has an extramarital affair with a porn star. after his wife gives birth to a son. and pays the porn star to shut up. >> of course it matters. it's against everything they stand for. >> you'd think so. but no. they say he's just repented and
they forgive him and mike pence is like that's my dude. because something truly. none of it matters. >> that is -- she channelled all of my progressive friends. does this matter? why aren't you reporting. we do it every night. what are you talking about? the guys are back with me. >> she channelled everything that people who warn about what a horrible character he is. that he's unfit to be president. we have been sounding that alarm bell for a long time. the american people voted for him. it didn't matter to them. it's the bottom line. after the access hollywood. there was a litany of things leading up to. >> does that show you the hypocrisy of people. >> i have gone round with people. >> is it the almighty dollar? >> there was a lot of resentment
after the obama presidency. on the hard right. people felt there was an assault on religion and assault on the constitution. there was legitimate grievances. it went so far they would allow someone a carnival barker like trump to come in and dupe people to believe he was on their side. married three times. cheated on two wives. apparently the third one. and all kind of character flaws. bragging about grabbing women by the you know what. and ev and. the hypocrisy is unbelievable. they defend him until this day. >> a lot of issues discussed in skits like this have been priced into the candidacy. in the past or possibly future. that's why you don't see the numbers move. and i don't think they will.
it would have to be something extremely different. >> like what? >> whatever. >> even the porn star didn't go. >> these things are priced in. >> the porn star was factored in? no one knew about the porn star during the election. it seems everything that comes up. people go well, i don't know. e-mails. or. >> i think comparable type issues. one other thing. he's never held himself outo be that some politicians get caught doing something. that gives him a shield. that pretend to be one thing and are something else. >> it shouldn't. character matters. >> especially the last president. but there's no judgment here. >> look, i'll say this.
>> just say it. >> in the recent book. he talk about ts the fact that the real danger of the trump presidency is the line has moved. there are folks out there they say countries in africa are "shithole" countries and everybody in haiti has aids. people say that on the record. let alone a candidate or president. or official. donald trump demonstrated you can talk about sexually assaulting and violate lg women. you can degrade everybody from pows to the disabled community. and still win. and so now i think we're in a very dangerous place. to where i don't think where ever he goes away things will go back to normal. the line moved. for white men. be clear. >> can you imagine obama doing things unif the for the office. look at trump.
the shutdown's over. now the work begins. senate republicans guaranteed to take up immigration quickly. can it win support in the house? r report overnight says the president is still threatening over issues with the russia investigation. welcome to "early start." i'm dave briggs. >> it is tuesday, just tuesday. the government is open. it is january 23rd. 4:00 a.m.